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March 13, 2013
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Essential news for the global engineering community

  Today's Tech Buzz 
  • Rapyuta: A Facebook space for robots
    If you want to create smarter robots, you need more memory and hardware -- but you might be able to get it in the cloud from Rapyuta, an "open source network" released last month "that robots can use to share and reuse knowledge amongst themselves." The project comes from the people at TechCrunch (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Lockheed develops cheap, fast method to desalinate water
    Lockheed Martin engineers say they've found a more efficient and cost-effective way to turn saltwater into clean water. The development uses thin carbon membranes with nanometer-large holes to filter the saltwater with less energy. The development means countries would no longer have to build expensive desalination stations. Officials say access to clean water is a global security issue, pushing defense contractors such as Lockheed to find ways to increase access to it. Reuters (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • $50 million in funding aimed at plug-in electric vehicles
    With the goal of making plug-in electric vehicles as affordable as any other type, the U.S. Energy Department plans to fund $50 million worth of new projects. Specifically, the department is targeting 12 areas of development, including batteries, lightweight and propulsion materials, power electronics, ventilation and cabin temperature systems and fuels and lubricants. CleanTechnica (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Global Window 
  • Rotating surfaces offer multiple uses for sports venues
    Using underground prismatic machinery that rotates panels, the 4D Sportsground under development in the Netherlands can present three different surfaces for various uses, including artificial turf; plastic for court sports; and billboard-style advertising or solar panels to generate revenue or energy. Developers Sublean and InnosportNL say the technology can also be used in a number of other ways to get more use out of structures including buildings, homes, fences and billboards. Gizmag (3/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Surgionix to launch orthopedic device at Chicago event
    New Zealand-based Surgionix plans to release its SLICK drill bit system at an orthopedic surgeons meeting in Chicago next week. The technology incorporates a depth gauge into a conventional bone bit to enable orthopedists to combine two tasks and reduce procedure time. (3/11) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Spotlight on Transportation 
  • China's wide-ranging polar rover powered by vertical turbine
    A small vertical turbine produced by Urban Green Energy has been wandering the frozen landscape of the Antarctic, powering an unmanned rover for China's research station. And the little four-wheeled vehicle is no slouch, having traversed more than 1,500 miles to date. The turbine keeps the rover moving in sub-zero temps, "polar winds, geomagnetic interference, cosmic rays and other extreme environmental conditions." (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Cellulosic ethanol seen on cusp of competitive status
    The cost of cellulosic ethanol is expected to drop enough by 2016 to make it roughly competitive with corn-based ethanol by then, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance survey of the industry. Producers of the cellulosic fuel create it through enzymatic hydrolysis and a fermentation stage. In addition, producers are expected to shift their efforts from technological enhancements to focus on logistical planning over the next few years. Environmental Leader (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Innovations & Trends 
  • Versatile robot designed to overcome post-disaster obstacles
    A four-limbed robot that can walk on all fours or on two legs is the product of a Carnegie Mellon University team in the school’s DARPA Robotics Challenge. Each limb also has a three-fingered hand so the robot can grip things. The so-called CHIMP device is designed to move about in a wreckage-strewn field on rescue missions after disasters. CHIMP is one entry in a field that brings together seven teams. American City Business Journals/Pittsburgh (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Improving turbines an important part of natural gas future
    Gas turbines as much as the newly plentiful natural gas that fuels them will be a big part of the United States' energy future, with further advances ensuring their place in the grid, says University of Connecticut professor Lee Langston. In Langston's New England, he notes, cheap natural gas has driven down coal's share of the energy generation market from 15% a few years ago to 3% today. Important as well have been developments in gas turbines that have boosted their efficiency recently to much as 47%, while some plant efficiencies are now around 60%. (3/2013) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Leadership & Development 
  • Covidien CEO: How to make crucial decisions
    Wall Street Journal
    Businesses must know their key challenges, and for hospitals, those are blood loss, infection and re-admission, Covidien CEO Jose Almeida says in this video interview. "The ability to test and learn is key. ... So, do your homework, prepare, look around the corner and understand where you're going, but test and learn. As you test and learn, then you can go big." The Wall Street Journal (3/12) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story

  ASME News 
  • ASME and IEEE conduct briefing on small modular reactors
    ASME and IEEE, in partnership with the Congressional Research and Development Caucus, hosted a congressional briefing entitled "New Nuclear Technology: Small Modular Reactors." The briefing, moderated by ASME President Marc W. Goldsmith, highlighted how government, utilities, industry, universities and manufacturers must to work together to leverage their collective R&D assets to expand the technical knowledge needed to advance the design and safety of nuclear power plant technology. Learn more. LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
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